3 Things to Know About Pilling in Organic Cotton Bed Sheets

If you are shopping around for organic cotton bed sheets, consider these things about pilling before you purchase.

Firstly, good for you! Purchasing products with organic cotton is better than those with conventional cotton.  Buying organic cotton sheets is better for just about everything and everybody.  They make less of an impact on entire ecosystems, organic farming creates roughly 60% less carbon output than conventional cotton farming. Look for the GOTS certification-that means no GMO’s were used to grow the cotton. Organic cotton farming uses no toxic pesticides and way less water than conventional cotton farming. If you see the Fair Trade mark, you can be sure you are buying something made under circumstances where the workers were working in a safe and fair environment. Products made with organic cotton are by nature hypoallergenic, so they are good for people with sensitive skin or allergies.

That being said, let’s talk about pilling.  We have all experienced those annoying little balls of wadded up fiber, so aggravating and unattractive, not to mention unpleasant against the skin.


What is pilling?


Pilling results from friction created when the fabric is rubbing against something.   The friction can cause the fibers break, pilling can occur on any fabric.  The cause of friction can be from washing-the cotton fibers break and tangle resulting with the tiny little fuzz balls or pills that we are so familiar with.   I'm sure we've all experienced this-unfortunately the things we love to use frequently are subject to pilling from repeated use .Over 75% of people complain about pilling.

Source, photo https://www.gleener.com/products/gleenerfabricshaver

So what can you do?



1 ) Reduce abrasion


If you think about it, sheet abrasion can happen on your bed and/or off your bed. You can accidentally cause abrasion to your sheets yourself  just by being in your bed and moving around.  Your movement creates friction, friction creates abrasion.  So what can you can do?  If you're concerned about abrasion try sleeping with socks if you have rough feet (and a pedicure).  If you toss and turn in your sleep, try a pajama set with long sleeves and pants.  Other suggestions are waxing and manicures (course hair stubble or rough skin can cause abrasion) if you find that your sheets are pilling in the areas of your feet legs (or back).   

Also be mindful  of how you do your laundry.  Any fiber this is wet is usually fragile. If your sheets get  twisted  and tangled either from the washing machine or from the dryer, that can cause even more friction which puts stress on the fibers. The result can be pilling from the fibers breaking and balling up.

Source: Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash


To prevent this and help the fibers in your sheet stay strong you can avoid chlorine bleach.  Bleach can weaken the fibers. In general, when you're washing your bed sheets make sure they have plenty of room to move around in the laundry machine so they are not rubbing against each other, watch out for over drying because that can cause fibers to break.  Wash your sheets on a gentle cycle and avoid any harsh detergents, chemicals or fabric softeners. When your sheets are dry, take him out of the dryer, don't leave them in for too long because this can increase the chance of more rubbing against each other. Make sure you clean the dryer lint trap after each use.




2) Remove pilling

If you find yourself with sheets with pilling, you can try use a  razor to shave off those little balls.  Stretch out the fabric as well as you can and then carefully shave off the pilling.  Obviously be careful not to cut the sheets or pillowcases; it'd be a good idea to get a second person to help pull the sheets taunt while you're shaving. Always be careful when handling razor-razors are sharp and can easily cut your fingers as well as your bedclothes!  Move the stroke of the shaving in one direction, the way that you would shave your legs or your face.  When you're done you can use a lint roller to brush off the section that you worked on. If you don't have a lint roller on hand you can use tape-masking tape is a really good option.

Another thing you can do is use a tool designed for such a job-The New York Times mentions Gleaner in one of their articles, link below. Founded out of a desire to preserve favorite wardrobe pieces, Gleaner has three different fabric safe edges and according to their claims helps you get the softest the longest life from your clothing, your bedding or upholstery.  The three separate edges are geared towards different types of fabric and it also includes a lint brush that picks up dander, dust, pet hair and dandruff so this is a really awesome product that can extend the life of your sheets and more. I have to say I also really like their tagline on this “choose Gleaner and feel good about buying less and making it last”.  Check out their products below gleaner.com

 Source, photo https://www.gleener.com/products/gleenerfabricshaver

Source:  https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/how-to-do-laundry


3)  Purchase quality bed sheets

Look for combed cotton, ideally combed certified organic cotton. Combed cotton is cotton that after is softer than regular cotton. Once it's harvested from the plant, the cotton is cleaned to get rid of dirt and seeds and then carded to separate the fibers and have them go more or less in the same direction. It's then split into slivers and then spun into threads. Fine brushes remove any residue and short cotton fibers. To make combed cotton, only long straight fibers are used for the slivers.  After combing, the straightened fibers join together more tightly which leads to less fraying and unraveling--all this helps at the fiber be stronger than regular cotton fibers.

Source:  Photo courtesy of Gallant international, Inc.

Look for mercerized cotton. Mercerizing is a process of treating cotton, usually with sodium hydroxide, under tension. The chemical process gives the cotton fibers more of a lustrous sheen and also strengthens them. Mercerization’s chemical treatment is carried out by holding the cotton yarn a fabric under tension and bathing it in a caustic solution at room temperature or neutralizing it with a warm bath.  This whole process results in the cell wall of the cotton fibers swelling, causing the surface area to increase and look somewhat reflective, which gives the cotton a lustrous appearance.

As a bonus, the acid bath makes the cotton fiber more able to absorb dye colors, usually making the colors more vibrant and long-lasting. Not only does it improve dye uptake but it also improves tear strength. Mercerization also improves the cottons resistance to mildew and shrinkage. Mercerization usually works best on cotton with long staple fiber.

Also look for products that are 2-ply. Plies are how many threads or how many yarns are twisted together to make a single thread-so obviously 2-ply consists of two yarns that are twisted together to make a single thread. 2-ply is generally better than single ply yarn, as I’m sure you can imagine. Fabric made with 2-ply yarn-two yarns twisted together, make tensile strength stronger than something that's a single ply fabric. Generally 2-ply fabrics are better than single-ply fabrics.


You're also going to want to look for sheets that are made with long staple fibers because the longer the cotton fibers are stronger, softer and more durable. Longer staple fibers twist and hold the plies stronger and smoother. Fabric made from long staple cotton usually less prone to pilling and wrinkling and feels luxurious. 2-ply fabric long staple fabrics fade less than fabrics that are made with the shorter cotton staple .

Photo showing staple lengths

Source:  Photo https://textilestudycenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/staple-length.png

At Terra Thread Home we are proud to offer you our luxurious, organic cotton bed sheets. Our bed sheets are made lovingly with superior quality long cotton stable fibers. We use the best 2-ply rainfed GOTS certified organic cotton grown on Fair Trade farms in India. Our sheets are 2-ply long staple (33 mm), they are mercerized and combed, 100% certified GOTS organic cotton. They feel cool and luxuriant to the touch and are sleek and smooth.  Our long staple, organic cotton sateen bed sheets are 300 thread count, and pill resistant to up 15 washes.

We at Terra Thread Home are acutely aware of the environmental and social issues that the world is facing.  We take our ethical responsibility very seriously.  We ensure the highest social and environmental compliance and quality standards in our entire production process from the cotton farms to your home. 

Source:  Photo courtesy of Terra Thread Home


We actively participate in giving back.  For every product sold, we contribute free meals in the U.S. to those that are suffering from food insecurity through the Feeding America program. This contribution is matched by the Tony Robbins One Billion Meals Challenge, doubling the impact.

We are proud to create good that returns goodness. Supporting Terra Thread Home is supporting the transformation of an  industry to which the well-being of people and the planet are just as important as business. 

So if you are looking to purchase quality GOTS certified luxurious 100% cotton sheets AND avoid pilling, look no further-we would be honored to add you as a customer. Welcome home to Terra Thread Home!

Source:  https://www.hunker.com/12560947/how-to-get-rid-of-pilly-sheets

Source: How to Remove Pilling from Your Bed Sheets

Source: https://thefabricofourlives.com/cotton-fabrics/mercerized

Source: https://www.cottonworks.com/topics/sourcing-manufacturing/quality-assurance/fabric-fail-pilling/

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